International Media Coverage of Structural Racism in US

Here is some recent coverage of the US getting slammed by the UN committee today:

Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, the U.N. committee’s rapporteur on the United States, replied that instead of ending the practice, the government appeared to be giving guidance to police to show them how to carry out racial profiling.

He also cited “overwhelming evidence” of police brutality against racial and ethnic minorities, including African- Americans, Latinos, Arabs and Muslims.

Experts also raised questions on the rights of Native Americans, the disproportionate number of people of colour in prison, juveniles serving life sentences without parole, and the estimated 5.3 million felons who have lost their voting rights. 

  http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L2121399.htm

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UN Asks Followup Questions in Response to Historic Testimony by Transgender Delegates

Members of CERD expressed interest in Major`s and my transgender testimonial messages from yesterday. One of the Committee Members asked for elaboration on the experiences I had all my life with multiple layers of discrimination and acculturation being mahuwahine and born into colonization as a US Citizen. This is powerful as the USHRN delegation is the largest of its kind and full of affected people of color providing testimony. In addition, the 2nd first is having not 1 but 2 transgenders testify . . . more tomorrow from the US delegation response to Committee questions. –Mel

U.S. Answers Innacurately to Questions from CERD Committee

The following document outlines questions by Rapporteur about the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Periodic Reports on racial discrimination submitted by the U.S. These questions were provided and asked of the U.S. governmentental delegation before coming to Geneva for review. The US sent written answers to the CERD committee members before their formal review of the U.S. on the 21st and 22nd of February. The full text can be found at us-report-back-to-cerd-committee.pdf but here is a choice example:

In the following quotation, the US denies the existence of a “School to Prison Pipeline”:

Regarding the Committee’s concern about the “school-to-prison pipeline,” it may behelpful to explain how discipline issues in U.S. schools are typically addressed… Because school discipline and the environment of each school are individual to each school, a broad brush characterization such as the “school-to-prison” pipeline cannot be made, and no data documents such a phenomenon.

Human Rights Attorney from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

 Some live reporting from Eric Tars about the 126 organizations representing at Geneva. 

Delegates Testify in front of the CERD Comittee

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Miss Major (l) and Melenie Eleneke (r) of the TGI Justice Project (San Francisco) speak on employment discrimination against transgender women of color, law enforcement abuse of transgender women, and how the lack of meaningful employment can lead to high rates of poverty and imprisonment among transgender communities.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee Briefing Room
A wider view of the room where delegates from the U.S. testified before the U.N. Human Rights Committee on violations by the U.S. government.

Delegates Meet with Special Rapporteur on Racism

The Special Rapporteur on Racism is charged by the Commission on HumanRights to monitor and report on racism, racial discrimination andxenophobia. To carry out this duty, the Special Rapporteur worksclosely in close consultation with governments, non-governmentalorganizations and relevant organization in the U.N. system. TheSpecial Rapporteur submits annual reports on the activities ofcountries and can conduct country visits. The United States was lastvisited in Oct 1994. The current Special Rapporteur, Doudou Diene(Senegal) is welcomed a meeting with US NGOs in preparation for hisvisit to the US for 2008.Pictured here: (l to r) Special Rapporteur, Doudou Diene(Senegal);Roksana Mun, Desis Rising Up and Moving Youth Power! (NY); AleyammaMathew WILD for Human Rights (San Francisco).dscn0994.jpg

UN Committee Members Express Interest in Transgender Rights

UN protocols and security measures are intense and the group has met here at the Hotel Eden Geneva and meandered in waves to Palais Nations on a trek to obtain UN credentials to allow access to both UN buildings, Palais Wilson and Palais Nations.

Thanks to the US Human Rights Network coordinators, the UN protocol orientation has provided much needed information on the delivery of testimonial messages that will have an impact on the CERD Committee members which will make them sit up and listen to our collective voices. The Dry Run of the Informal Briefing gave us crucial timing practice that will allow all of us who are providing testimonies to be able to do so in a concise and powerful manner that will be the bait to hook the Committee Members interest and elicit their much needed advocacy in our human rights campaign movement.

It has been noted that, historically, this kind of informal briefing has never happened on this large scale and we have an opportunity to productively and progressively move our efforts toward effecting some major social change in diverse communities across an ongoing continuum of unanswered US human rights violations of UN treaties ratified by the US.

Testimony after testimony has been given and everyone has been respectful of time constraints and I`m witnessing the sheer passion, respect, and dignity that everyone has brought to share at this advocacy table.

My testimony interested one Committee Member enough to speak to me for nearly 10 minutes on the cultural significance of the ”blessed by God”, as he mentioned to me, Native Hawaiian Mahuwahines and the Pakistani/Indian Hijiras. HOOKED—I felt empowered and honored that I was able to reach him through cross cultural means and that he actually took the time out of his busy schedule with as voluminous a workload as a UN Committee Member, such as he, has and is accountable to restrictive budgetary considerations and limited time constraints within which to frame his responses and recommendations.

Special Rapporteur, Dr. Doudou Diéne gave detailed requests for foundational information from the NGOs from whom he received testimony on the following issues: 1) Homelessness, 2) War on Drugs, 3) School to Prison Pipeline (Migrant Youth, Arab Americans/Migrants & Racial Discrimination, Racial Discrimination & Alternative Programs), 4) Immigrants and Migrants (Local Anti-Immigrant Ordinances, Immigrant Women), 5) Indigenous Peoples, 6) Gender and Sexuality Issues, 7) Special Measures, 8 ) Post 9/11 Issues. Snapshots of local communities were provided from Minnesota, Chicago, New York City, Texas, and California. Also, Hurricane Katrina victims were provided special testimonial time.

–Mel